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Fingerprinting Uber Drivers in Houston

Published: Jul 29, 2016 in Criminal Defense

Potential Uber drivers in Houston must submit to a fingerprint background check before being approved to drive. Uber is similar to a taxi service to its customers, but very different from a taxi company in terms of its business and independent contractor structure. Because of these differences, Uber drivers aren’t subject to the same background checks or license requirements as taxi drivers in various cities. Many regions are battling back against this and pushing for fingerprinting. This has resulted in not only slower hiring for the service, but it also changes what potential workers may need to disclose.

If you have a criminal record and want to know more about working for Uber, contact the Houston criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 for answers to your questions.

A Major Push for Fingerprinting

Originally, Uber drivers could quickly sign up to drive for the service, usually receiving a background check from a private company in less than 24 hours. Fingerprinting was not required, but Uber has always maintained that it checks its drivers and promotes safety. Later, despite Uber’s background checks, it was discovered that numerous Uber drivers had criminal records, including some for violent and sexual crimes, The Associated Press reported.

The City of Houston found an Uber driver who passed the company’s background check actually had 10 different Social Security numbers and an arrest warrant. Last year a Houston driver was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting an unconscious female passenger, the Houston Chronicle reported. He also had a criminal history, but had passed Uber’s background check.

The possibility that Uber drivers could have criminal records for violent or sexual crimes would make it inappropriate for them to transport customers. This issue has pushed many cities to call for deeper background checks, including fingerprinting.

Fingerprints are run through an FBI database, unlike a private background check that only runs the name an individual through court records, a criminal database, and the sex offender list. Someone merely has to lie about his or her name or give a false Social Security number to get around this type of check.

Uber Fights Back Against Fingerprinting

The call for more security has forced Uber to threaten to leave some cities entirely. Uber has already pulled service from Austin, Texas, because of fingerprint checks, but has agreed to fingerprinting in Houston – for now.

Uber maintains that fingerprinting does not increase the safety of passengers compared to the type of background check it uses. Many people agree. It also states that its drivers, as independent contractors, are often too busy to jump through hoops in order to be able to drive. Uber is sometimes a second or third job for them to make extra money. Getting fingerprints taken, submitting to a drug test, and having their vehicles inspected are too many tasks before being able to start work.

Can Fingerprinting Lead to Discrimination?

One of the main arguments against fingerprinting is that it leads to discrimination because a criminal background can make it difficult for a potential driver to receive a Houston Transportation Network Company license.

Many people with criminal records are trying to make an honest living, and Uber is easily accessible to anyone who has a four-door vehicle that is less than 10 years old and can pass an inspection. People who are trying to overcome a less-than-perfect history can set their own hours and work around another job schedule or their child care needs. A push to not employ people with any type of criminal history could reduce the number of good and safe drivers on the road because of baseless discrimination.

Contact a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have questions about signing up to drive for Uber or fingerprinting because of your criminal record, contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767. Navigating the job hunt with a criminal background can be difficult, but an experienced criminal lawyer can help you understand your rights and signs of discrimination.